Inside Fatboy Slim’s life – bankruptcy, Zoe Ball split, bisexual son and rehab

Norman Cook became a household name synonymous with big beat electronic music under the guise of alias Fatboy Slim in the late 1990s, following the release of his second album, You've Come A Long Way, Baby.

It featured the monster hits Praise You and Right Here, Right Now, which peaked at number one and two respectively, catapulting the star to worldwide acclaim at the age of 35.

More than 10 years earlier he had enjoyed success in The Housemartins before he went on to explore a number of alternative musical endeavours.

READ MORE: Strictly star Zoe Ball's colourful dating history after Fatboy Slim divorce

At the peak of his fame, the star would go on to marry second wife BBC presenter Zoe Ball, with whom he had two children, son Woody, now 22, and daughter Nelly, 13.

His success came at a cost, however, suffering hardships including bankruptcy, a well-publicised divorce and a stint in rehab for alcohol addiction.

As the star celebrates his birthday this month on July 31, Daily Star have taken a deep dive into his life.

Early success and bankruptcy

First rising to fame in the mid-to-late 1980s as the bassist of Hull four-piece, The Housemartins, Cook bagged two top ten albums and number one hit single in the form of Caravan of Love.

After splitting in 1988 and band mates Paul Heaton and Dave Hemingway going on to form The Beautiful South, Cook retreated to his native Brighton where he pursued his love of DJing and dub music.

By 1989 he'd achieved his first solo hit – Blame It On The Bassline – before he formed Beats International, a collaboration including pal MC Wildski.

After moderate success a copyright infringement issue and subsequent owed royalties left Cook bankrupt. The rollercoaster continued, however, as he established Freak Power, who's song Turn On, Tune In, Cop Out was used by Levi's as part of a huge marketing campaign two years after its original 1993 release.

By 1995 Cook had recorded a house music album under another alter-ego, Pizzaman and after the release of three singles formed a group, The Mighty Dub Katz.

Fatboy Slim era and marriage to Zoe Ball

Cook adopted the name Fatboy Slim in 1996, a name that has stuck to this day and the release of Better Living Through Chemistry put him an upward trajectory of fame and success once more.

The release of the aforementioned You've Come A Long Way, Baby galvanised him further and he began dating Ball before they married in 1999.

After Cook invested £500,000 in his beloved Brighton and Hove Albion FC to become a major shareholder in 2002, the pair welcomed their first child Woody, but things turned sour a year later as the couple split following Ball's admission to having an affair.

They later reconciled, however, and went on to have Nelly in 2010, but separated again – this time permanently in 2016 after 18 years together.

At the time a pal told the Mirror: "Zoe and Norman haven’t been working for a long time – they knew their relationship was coming to an end, so they’ve had a lot of time to adjust to living separate lives. They were still officially together at the start of the summer, and they really tried to make it work, but it was very much a mutual decision to call it a day."


Prior to Nelly's birth, meanwhile, Cook's drinking had got the better of him, resulting in him checking into a rehabilitation facility in Bournemouth.

After years of admitting to enjoying alcohol and that he didn't like taking to the stage sober, he finally recognised he needed help in 2009.

Before his lengthy treatment, he explained: "Fatboy Slim is my alter ego – he's confident, a bit of a show-off. It takes me until midnight to psych myself into him. The difference between me and him is a bad Hawaiian shirt and half a bottle of vodka.

"I've tried going on stage sober and it wasn't much fun."

In a new frame of mind collaborations with the likes of Macy Gray and Blur followed, before Cook worked with grime star Dizzee Rascal on The Brighton Port Authority. He then returned to his Fatboy Slim persona to perform at the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Sobriety and bisexual son

After a decade of intermittent performances including shows at Glastonbury and even the House of Commons, by 2022 he had been sober for 13 years, a milestone he celebrated on Instagram.

"Today I celebrate 13 years sober and clean," he wrote at the time. "Thankful to everyone who has helped on my journey and sending love and strength to everyone on a similar path."

In the meantime, son Woody, now a DJ himself had come out as bisexual much to mum Ball's surprise.

In a candid 2019 interview with Boys By Girls magazine, he revealed: "I told my mum and her first reaction was: ‘You can’t be, you like girls?’ I got her to look back upon her group of friends and she started to realise she knew more bi people then she thought. I think it was a bigger thing in her time."

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He added "Some people assume it’s an in-between before you are gay. But really, it’s a thing on its own."

Following in his dad's footsteps, the pair clearly have more than one similarity.

At Glastonbury Festival last month a "hammered" Cook junior was wrestled by security guards during Fatboy Slim's set. 

He told the Sun afterwards: "I climb on this air mattress and it’s like a magic carpet ride. A security man comes over and people were going, ‘No, he’s with Norman’, and I realised I was getting nicked.

"The security man was trying to drag me off quite aggressively. I was definitely pretty hammered by that point."

He added: "I managed to get back into the crowd, went back on my friend’s shoulders and set off a smoke grenade."

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